Study Guide

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

By Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Chronicle of a Death Foretold Introduction

There never was a novella more foretold. Well, except for Love in the Time of Cholera, or The Autumn of the Patriarch, or Memories of My Melancholy Whores. Okay, so maybe there were a lot of works by Marquez that were more anticipated and got a lot more critical acclaim, but Chronicle of a Death Foretold still holds its own.

This story of a potentially innocent man who is murdered for the honor of a woman who lost her virginity is the fourth major work by Marquez. It was written in 1981, after Marquez gained fame for writing 100 Years of Solitude, and just one year before he won the Nobel Prize for the same novel. Even though Chronicle of a Death Foretold has been made into a Broadway play and a feature film starring Rupert Everett, it just hasn't garnered the same critical acclaim of Marquez's more famous works—but don't ask us why; it's one of our personal favorites.

Even though many of the hallmarks of Marquez's Nobel Prize winning One Hundred Years of Solitude are present here—like magical realism, sensuality, social commentary, and unusual narrative styles—this book is a little different. Towns don't get completely covered in butterflies and there aren't epic wars that tear apart nations. Instead, we have a pretty sad and depressing story about the absurdity of human nature. A man dies for no real reason. Marquez confronts us with the worst parts of society, the parts capable of murder, and doesn't pretty it up with magical and dazzling imagery. We guess that might be too much of a downer for some critics.

In many ways, Chronicle of a Death Foretold is much more conventional than Marquez's more famous works. Some critics might say that's a disappointment. We say that makes it a perfect starter novel for someone who wants to get to know Colombia's Gabo.

  

What is Chronicle of a Death Foretold About and Why Should I Care?

You may read the story of this town and think that you would never be so senseless. We sure did. Any rational person would have saved Santiago. Any reasonable person would never have someone else's blood on their hands just because they're trying to maintain the status quo. Right?

Wrong. We see stuff like this happen all the time. It's when we laugh uncomfortably at someone's racist joke just to avoid being a buzz kill. It's when someone doesn't speak up when their friend uses a homosexual slur. How many times have you just thought, "It's not my place to say anything?"

Sure, in these cases someone's life isn't necessarily on the line, but still, many of us act just like the people in Chronicle of a Death Foretold every day—just in more subtle ways. So when you read this book, don't just see it as the chronicle of a completely incompetent town. See it as a warning and a reminder that sometimes, maintaining the status quo can be a very dangerous thing.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold Resources

Websites

All about Gabo
This site has just about everything you need to know about Marquez and his literary works.

Medicine and Marquez?
It's not exactly what we would have expected, but this group of med students takes a slightly different slant on Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Movie or TV Productions

It's on Broadway, darling!
We kind of feel sorry for the actor who has to play Santiago. Getting killed on stage so many times must hurt.

Starring Rupert Everett
They pulled out all the stops for this 1987 big-screen production of Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

Historical Documents

We weren't fooled
People across the globe were tricked by this poem that someone attributed to Marquez. As if!

Not exactly love letters
If you wanted to see Gabo's personal correspondence, you're in luck. Warning: there's a bit more war than romance in these letters.

Video

From the horse's mouth
What could be better than a documentary where you get to hear Marquez's words from his own mouth?

Meme-ifed Marquez
For those of you who have been on the Internet for too long. Learn Marquez's life story as told through the lens of Internet memes.

Audio

Tricky interviewee
For a journalist, you would sure expect Marquez to go easier on the people who were interviewing him.

Welcome back Marquez
This homecoming story almost makes you believe that Macondo is a real town.

Images

Gabito
Before he was Gabo, he was Gabito.

Family time
It's nice to see the Marquez family has a sense of humor.

Black eye?
He sure looks happy for a guy who was just in a fight.